Insight Central Europe News

12-11-2004

Slovenia's parliament has elected centrist leader Janez Jansa as new prime minister, giving him a clear mandate to form a ruling coalition after elections last month. Mr Jansa's right of centre Slovenian Democratic Party came first in the elections with 29 seats, and he now has 15 days to put together a cabinet. Analysts say the biggest challenge ahead for the new government will be patching up disputes with neighbouring Croatia over how the border between the two former Yugoslav states should run on the Adriatic coast.

The main party in the Czech government, the Social Democrats, suffered setbacks in elections to the country's Senate and regional authorities. But despite support of just 14 percent in the regional polls, recently appointed Prime Minister Stanislav Gross said on Monday he had no intention of stepping down as leader of the party.

The people of Poland marked the country's Independence Day on Thursday, the anniversary of the regaining of independence in 1918 after over 120 years of foreign rule. In his address to the nation, President Alexander Kwasniewski launched a scathing attack on the opposition, describing its plans for a thorough cleansing of Poland's political life as a caricature of the achievements of the past 15 years. For their part, the opposition branded Mr Kwasniewski's remarks as a return to communist rhetoric.

Slovaks are much more pessimistic about their future than people in neighbouring countries or the 15 states which made up the European Union until May, suggests a poll released in Bratislava this week. Only 6 percent of Slovaks interviewed described themselves as "optimistic", three times less than in former federal partner the Czech Republic.

A memorial has been unveiled at the town of Kaprun in the Austrian province of Salzburg for the 155 victims of a ski train fire four years ago. The private service was attended by families of the victims and by Austrian president Heinz Fischer. The skiers died when the crowded cable train in which they were travelling caught fire inside a tunnel. Only 12 people escaped the inferno.

12-11-2004